Kerrera is the island which is visible directly from Oban Bay, although it’s merely the northern tip that can be seen. Kerrera is in fact quite a large island and can be compared with Scarba, Seil and Luing, is scarcely populated and provides excellent shelter for the Oban harbour. The current population is around 35 people, in the early 1800s it was around 200. With Oban being the gateway to the islands of Scotland you might expect to find a ferry from Oban to Kerrera, it is however strange to see that a ferry to the nearest island is not provided for. To access Kerrera you have to travel a couple of miles south to Gallenach where a ferry crosses the two hundred or so metres of the Sound of Kerrera between the Scottish mainland and the island itself. The ferry service is operated by Duncan MacEachan, the owner of Kerrera Ferry Ltd. Their timetable can be found here. Prepare for a journey back in time.
With all the hustle and bustle of the nearby tourist centre of Oban, Kerrera is in contrast very quiet, rural and offers lovely views of the surrounding coastal areas. Cars are banned on the island, except for the locals making it a walkers paradise, although good footwear is adviced because of some rough and boggy grounds. The island’s main function for many years was as a stepping-stone for transporting cattle from Mull to the mainland. In the north end of Kerrera is a prominent memorial commemorating David Hutcheson, one of the founders of the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry service.
Gylen Castle Kerrera
Gylen Castle was built in 1587 by Duncan MacDougall of Dunollie, the 16th chief, on the site of an earlier fortification. Due to the absence of a water supply inside the castle the MacDougall defenders had to surrender to a detachment of the Covenanter army of General David Leslie after the water supply outside of the castle was captured in 1647. The castle was then looted and burned and the Brooch of Lorn was stolen from the castle only to be returned to the Chief of the MacDougalls in 1824. The castle, which can look formidable on a gloomy day poised above the steep and rocky coastline, has an interesting passage underneath it. Carved heads can still be seen on the walls and an inscription which may have read “trust in God and sin no more”.
Accommodation is available on the island making it an attractive destination for tourists who seek the quiet life. Daytrippers can take the bus from Oban and stay on the island for some hours before the bus takes you back to modern life! The Marina in the north of Kerrera provides moorings with access to amenities and a ferry service into Oban for its users.
Kerrera Community & Local Websites. Tourist Information:
www.kerrera-ferry.co.uk – Kerrera Ferry Company
www.ikdt.co.uk – Isle of Kerrera development trust
www.oban.org.uk – Oban tourist and accommodation information
www.kerrerabunkhouse.co.uk – Kerrera Tea Garden & Bunkhouse
www.visitscottishheartlands.com – Tourist Information for Argyll
Kerrera Map – A detailed map of the island
Kerrera Marina Ardantrive Bay